Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In Bruges

she said:

The end is near and we've wanted to pack in as much as we can, the result is we've gotten a bit lazy in our writing. So though we spent the majority of our Belgium time in the student town of Antwerp  – in an amazing converted chocolate factory hostel – we dedicate this post to our day trip to Bruges.

Our reason for visiting was shallow - a very dark comedy filmed in the city by the name of In Bruges. We spent the day looking for sights from the movie, and recalling various quotes.

Please excuse the language. Thanks for being patient. Hello fairy-tale city. 

"In Bruges" said:

Harry: It's a fairytale town, isn't it? How's a fairytale town not somebody's f*ing thing? 

Yuri: You use this word, alcoves?
Ken: Alcoves, yes. Sometimes.
Yuri: There are not many people around in these alcoves at Christmas time. If I were to murder a man I would murder him here. Are you sure this is the right word, alcoves?
Ken: Alcoves, yes. It's kind of like nooks and crannies.
Yuri: Nooks and crannies, yes! Perhaps this would be more accurate. Nooks and crannies rather than alcoves. Yes.

Ray: Do you think this is good?
Ken: Do I think what's good?
Ray: You know, going around in a boat, looking at stuff?
Ken: Yes, I do. It's called sight-seeing.

Ray: Harry, I've got an idea.
Harry: What?
Ray: My room faces out the canal, right? I'm going to go back to me room, jump into the canal, see if I can swim to the other side and escape.
Harry: All right.
Ray: If you go outside around the corner, you can shoot at me from there and try to get me. That way we'll leave this lady and her baby out of the whole entire thing.
Harry: You completely promise to jump into the canal? I don't want to run out there, come back in ten minutes, and find you f*ing hiding in a cupboard.

Ray: One gay beer for my gay friend, one normal beer for me because I am normal.

Ken: Coming up?
Ray: What's up there?
Ken: The view.
Ray: The view of what? The view of down here? I can see that down here.
Ken: Ray, you are about the worst tourist in the whole world.

Ken: I know I'm awake but it feels like I'm in a dream.

Ray: And I realized, f* man, maybe that's what hell is: the entire rest of eternity spent in f*in' Bruges. And I really really hoped I wouldn't die. I really really hoped I wouldn't die.

he said:
Many apologies for anyone who doesn't find this post absolutely side splitting but I do.  If you want to understand the references and you don't mind swear words then watch the movie. If you don't then please wait patiently for our next post ;).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Thank You for Smoking

she said:

While we were in Indonesia we met quite a few Dutch who were traveling the country by bicycle. I thought they must be crazy, but now I understand. Amsterdam is the city of bikes, and the cyclists fear nothing except maybe each other.

he said:

Right out of the train station there is a lot of construction, pedestrian traffic, car traffic, bike traffic in short, Life. I was reminded of Bali and I thought to myself, "Holy Hell, the chaos here must have been exported to Indonesia."  Much like Bali my perception completely changed a few hours later when I was on two man powered wheels tearing through the streets and ringing my bell at anyone who was in the way.

Easy to spot rental bikes. Green mean GO! Waiting for these red lights during our evening search of the red light district.

I guess it's called the postcard city and that's probably the best way to describe it.  Every time you look down a canal or across the street there is another shot that would fit perfectly on a 3.5" x 5" piece of paper.  That doesn't mean you should all keep an eye on your mailboxes though, let's be honest I'm terrible at keeping in touch and the pictures here are much higher quality.

Amsterdam by night.

she said:

Those hoping for Red Light District tidbits will have to plan their own trip. We did go through on a free walking tour, but got hopelessly lost in all the side streets when we tried to find our way back at night and were warned that if the red light women thought you'd included them in a snapshot you could expect to go home with a highly broken picture taking device.

Instead, some other colorful areas...

Graffiti in one of the areas frequented by squatters. Bright Bikes.

he said:

Factoid of the post: the houses were taxed on the width because that meant more exposure to the canal and more opportunity for business. That led to very narrow houses and one is actually only 1.8m wide!  Because it was virtually impossible to get things up the staircases and the high frequency of floods they installed a hook for a pulley at the top of all the buildings. They would also tilt the building's facade forward ever so slightly in order to create a bit of space between giant heavy swinging object and thin fragile glass window.  You Dutchies are genius!

Some canal house architecture. Amsterdam's skinniest house (it's the one window wide building). Look upward for the solution to get your grand piano to the top floor.

Please give us reason to return to Amsterdam. Thank you to the cyclists for doing your best to avoid us. Hello Belgium!

Hello Canals.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Tourist(s)

she said:

Thanks to the hospitality of a friend we got to experience Cologne, Germany's fourth largest city, as if we were on an all inclusive 3 day private tour.

Our accommodation was a two bedroom student flat; bright, comfortable, full of IKEA furniture, and right next to a grocery store and tram stop. Meals included breakfasts of breads and spreads, bakery lunches, dinners with names like Haxen (slow cooked pig knuckle), and a Kölsch (style of beer brewed only in and around Köln) to wash it all down.

Kölsch, dinner, waiting for a tram.

And then came the sights...

he said:

We had already seen Munich and Berlin and now we were in Cologne visiting an awesome friend who we met in Australia.  This third German city is just as unique as the first two. It's a bit crowded but there are diverse groups of nationalities who live there which meant for a super interesting atmosphere.

There is a massive cathedral as the focal point of the city called the Dom and it's well worth the two hours and three euro to meander inside and climb up the spire.  From the top you can, of course, see the whole city laid out before you.  I found Cologne especially nice from up here because even though it has city status it still seems rather village-like.
An impressive sight. Views of, and from, the Kölner Dom. 

Another place for sights is from the Kölner Seilbahn, a Gondola that goes across the Rhine and over Rheinpark.  This is also well worth the few Euro it costs. I recommend you take your strongest camera lens or binoculars because at the end is a sort of nudist spa where with a whole different kind of view.

Gondola over the Rhine and Rheinpark. Sorry, no nude shots.

she said:

To cross back over to city center from Rheinpark we opted for the Hohenzollern Bridge, also called the Locking Bridge because of the habit of tourists and locals to adorn the bridge with locks bearing the names of themselves and their partner. A couple who attaches their lock will then throw the key into the nearby river and this is meant to show the relationship is "locked" in place. Our joke is the people who aren't sure they'll stay together use combination locks or write their names on pieces of tape that can be removed.


I guess if you do have to go and scratch some lock names out there's always the Lindt Schokoladenmuseum to eat away your sorrows, but bring cash for the gift store- the itty bitty sample they give you with your entrance fee leaves a lot to be desired. 
Watching chocolate in the making!

he said:

I should also mention the football. Euro cup was in full effect and Germany played Portugal.  One to nil for Germany and that meant a good night of beer at the local beer garden's Public Viewing.

Cards and camouflage at a public viewing. Ma-ri-o GO-mez! (clapclap.clap.clap.clap)

Dear Ida,
Please can we live with you forever? Thank you for being the best tour guide ever for Cologne. Hello again should you visit anywhere we ever live.